On Wednesday, details of a meeting among Boston Red Sox players and members of the ownership group was the hot topic of the day—in more ways than one.
Yahoo! Sports baseball writer Jeff Passan revealed through anonymous sources that several Red Sox players, a group that included Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, met with owners on an off-day on July 26 to discuss their dissatisfaction with current manager Bobby Valentine.
Passan went on to say that the discussion "turned ugly almost immediately" after the meeting started at the Palace Hotel shortly after 2 p.m. that day.
Pedroia did confirm that the meeting took place, but told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he was not of the belief that Valentine should be fired.
"I don't think Bobby should be fired," Pedroia said. "Listen, we haven't played well. I mean, that's the bottom line. I'm not going to blame anything on Bobby, and I don't think anyone else is. It's on the players. Last year wasn't on Tito [Francona]. I know he took it hard. We all did. I mean, jeez. It's on the players."
While Pedroia is correct in that it's on the players to do the jobs, the players can't be fired. Sure, GM Ben Cherington could work on maybe getting some of the under-performing players out of Dodge, aka Boston, but in baseball, it's always the manager that falls on the sword.
It almost seems inevitable at this point that Valentine is looking at a one-and-done deal.
With that mind, here is a list of potential managerial candidates who could replace Valentine at season's end.
A fiery player with a knack for stealing bases during his career, Brett Butler has been managing in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization since 2005.
For the past four seasons, Butler has led the Triple-A Reno Aces, who are currently at the top of the Pacific North Division standings in the PCL with a 71-53 record.
Butler is highly thought of as a bright mind with an ability to work well with developing players. Maybe some of the enthusiasm he displayed during his playing days could rub off on the current group of Red Sox players.
Former MLB catcher Steve Decker served mainly in a backup capacity during his seven years in the majors, and he's using the knowledge he's learned and applying it at the managerial level in the minors.
Decker is currently the coordinator of minor league hitting instruction for the San Francisco Giants, an organization that Decker has been associated with as a player and coach for 18 seasons.
Decker rose swiftly through the minor league managerial ranks with the Giants, taking on his new role after spending two seasons managing the Giants' Triple-A farm club.
It might be difficult to pry Decker away from the Giants, and some feel that Decker will someday replace Bruce Bochy. But Decker's time will come, if not for the Giants.
For the past three seasons, former Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg has been managing at the Triple-A level, first with the Cubs and now with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A affiliate.
Sandberg had been considered a favorite for the Cubs' managerial position when Lou Piniella stepped down in 2010, but the Cubs opted to go with Mike Quade instead, with Sandberg moving on to the Philly system.
Sandberg has been successful, leading the IronPigs to their first ever playoff appearance last season and being named the Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America.
Again, the issue might be in prying Sandberg away from his original organization, drafted by the Phillies back in 1978. Sandberg could very well be the heir apparent for current Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, now 68 years of age.
As a member of the Boston Red Sox for 11 seasons, former infielder John Valentin is well-versed in the art of Boston-speak—in terms of the media swarm, that is.
Valentin is currently in his second season as the hitting coach for the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Valentin's approach to hitting and working with young batters clearly translates well at the managerial level as well.
“My idea, and my goal and my job, is to make sure that I understand what the pitching is trying to do to my hitter," Valentin said. I have to give that information to him and he has to go out and execute. That’s why I’m here.”
Hmm. Communication and execution. Those are two things that currently seem to be lacking in Boston.
The man responsible for the most important stolen base in Boston Red Sox history is currently cutting his teeth as a major league coach.
Dave Roberts, whose daring steal of second base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS was the catalyst for the Red Sox's historic comeback, is working as the first base coach for Buddy Black of the San Diego Padres.
Roberts is an icon in Boston for his timely theft in '04 and is widely regarded as one of the truly nice guys in all of baseball.
Roberts obviously would be a dark-horse candidate, considering his limited exposure to coaching at this point, but think of it this way—couldn't the Red Sox use as much goodwill as they can find right now?
Roberts would certainly deliver that and more.
Former Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell did not have a fun experience in his first go-around as a manager.
Saddled with an awful team courtesy of former Tigers GM Randy Smith, Trammell posted a 186-330 record (.383 winning percentage) in his three years at the helm before being replaced by Jim Leyland.
Leyland himself gave credit to Trammell for his professionalism and the role Trammell played in the Tigers' turnaround that saw them reach the World Series in 2006.
“I’m the first to say that I’m reaping the benefits of all of their hard work,” Leyland said. “This isn’t about me. More credit should be going to those guys, and to the people in the front office. They made this happen, not me.”
Now working as the bench for the Arizona Diamondbacks under friend and former teammate Kirk Gibson, Trammell deserves another shot, and his professionalism would be a welcome sight in Boston.
There's certainly a lot to be said about former catchers and their success at the managerial level. Current Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar could well be in line to continue that success.
Alomar is highly regarded as a managerial candidate and was on the short list of candidates last season for the Boston Red Sox after Terry Francona stepped down.
Speaking of candidates on a short list, current Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux should still be on that list for the Boston Red Sox if Bobby Valentine is indeed gone at the end of the season.
Maddux withdrew his name from consideration last November, citing family reasons at the time.
Family ties could still be an issue for Maddux, who resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with his wife and two daughters.
But could the Red Sox job be more enticing for Maddux this time around?
Maddux is widely respected and admired as an outstanding pitching coach, and considering the Red Sox's woes on the mound, Maddux would indeed be a fit.
Clearly a sentimental choice here.
Former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek certainly earned the respect of the entire pitching staff and coaches during his 15 years in Boston.
Known for his intense preparation and outstanding communication skills in working with the pitching staff, Varitek led the Red Sox as captain by example.
That is an example that could lead to a managerial position sometime in the future. However, it might be a stretch to think that future is now, especially being only one year removed from the game as a player.
Former outfielder Dave Martinez has been the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays and manager Joe Maddon since 2007 and has earned the respect and admiration of Rays players along the way.
As a player, Martinez became an outstanding defensive outfielder and displayed a hard-nosed gritty style of play throughout his career.
Maddon himself has pushed Martinez as a managerial candidate as well, heaping praise on Martinez when the Red Sox managerial job was up for grabs last year.
"He would be very, very difficult to replace, but I would do somersaults (if he got the Sox job)," Maddon said. "He is absolutely ready. He's got a really quick baseball mind.
"He's got that one-step-ahead vision. He's a good instructor, and he's going to be a good planner and in-game kind of manager."
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.